Pros and Cons of Launching a New Business During the Holiday Season

The consultants at Corporate Business Solutions  help small to medium – size businesses which have a minimum of 10 employees and $1 million in revenue. We also have the expertise to help entrepreneurs launch small businesses. Starting a business is a huge commitment that can reap many long-term rewards. If you’re looking to become a business owner, we can help put you on the path to success.

As the holiday season approaches, the timing of launching a new business is sure to be a trending subject.  If you’re considering starting a new business before the end of the year, we have information that you may find beneficial:

  1. There may be a few advantages to starting a business at the end of the year, specifically between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These include:
  • Most shoppers are in a buying mood. If you plan to sell products this could work to your advantage, especially if you plan on starting a business that involves selling gift items.
  • You may be able to reap some tax advantages by starting a business before the end of the year, specifically by capturing some deductions, including, but not limited to office-in-home tax deductions.
  • Because stores are very competitive and offer extended sales during the holidays, you might be able to find some good deals on the supplies and equipment you need for starting a business, so you might conceivably get a bit of a break on your startup costs.
  1. On the contrary, there are reasons why you might not want to start your own business just yet, including:
  • Starting a business isn’t something you should do on a whim. It takes proper planning, including developing at least an informal business plan. No matter when you decide to actually start your business, you need to make sure you’ve thought it out carefully – especially if this is going to be a full-time business for you.
  • If you’re planning on selling products, especially gift items, it’s likely that this will be the busiest time of year for your business – next year! Trying to get any kind of business marketing and sales strategy in place and get some buzz going for your business takes time and is not something you can likely accomplish in a month.
  • While we all like to think of the holiday season as a joyous time, it’s not always so joyous and happy for everyone. Starting a new business during the holiday season can add stress to you, your spouse and your kids.  To keep your holiday season bright, you may want to start your new business next year.

To learn more about what we can do for you and / or to schedule your appointment with the experienced business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

PR Tips for Small Business Owners

The consultants at Corporate Business Solutions  help small to medium – size businesses implement new tools and techniques that are often critical in advancing in their industry.

We have worked with many small business owners that are interested in handling their own public relations. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, doing PR yourself can be a great money-saving option for your small business. However, as you grow, you may opt to work with a professional public relations firm. Here are some tips that may help you with your PR endeavors:

  1. Tell your story- Storytelling can help transform your brand’s identity and presence, and create trust from consumers or others in the industry. Some of the best stories come from you and your loyal customers. You can tell the story of how your brand came to be, and customers can tell the stories of their experiences with your business.
  2. Keep current – Stay informed with everything related to your industry. Set up Google Alerts and Twitter Mentions. Find and follow the top industry influencers, and read up on what your competitors are doing. You can use sites like IFTTT to collect articles containing relevant keywords from all over the internet, and have new content delivered right to your inbox.
  3. Network with the top influencers- If you’re actively keeping up with the top industry reporters and influencers, the second step is to then try and network with them. If you take notes on what those writers typically focus on, you’ll have an abundance of knowledge when you finally reach out to them to build a relationship.
  4. Do your research and remain objective – Be sure you have something to contribute to the conversation or the industry, whether it be information in the form of an article or a product or service that is particularly helpful. It’s important to do enough prep work before making any pitches. Study the outlets you’ve chosen to pitch to, and look to see if there is a specific person at an outlet you think would respond well to what you’re offering. Once again, learn as much as you can before jumping forward.
  5. Craft creative and compelling pitches – When you’re pitching your brand or product, you need to make sure you remain as objective as possible. Even though you might think everything your business does or provides is notably the best, not everyone will agree.  Remember that a lot of top industry influencers are constantly bombarded with pitches, so yours needs to be creative and, most importantly, personal.

To learn more about what we can do for you and / or to schedule your appointment with the experienced business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Info

Corporate Business Solutions  helps put small and medium – size businesses on the path to success.  In fact, we utilize our expertise to access the information necessary for growth.   Through our affiliated companies, we can even navigate the way through all of your small business tax challenges.

If you are a small employer, there is a tax credit that can actually put money in your pocket. According to the IRS, the small business health care tax credit benefits employers that:

•offer coverage through the small business health options program, also known as the SHOP marketplace

•have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees

•pay an average wage of less than $50,000 a year

•pay at least half of employee health insurance premiums

Here are five facts about this credit:

•The maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers.

•To be eligible for the credit, you must pay premiums on behalf of employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace, or qualify for an exception to this requirement.

•The credit is available to eligible employers for two consecutive taxable years beginning in 2014 or later. You may be able to amend prior year tax returns to claim the credit for tax years 2010 through 2013 in addition to claiming this credit for those two consecutive years.

•You can carry the credit back or forward to other tax years if you do not owe tax during the year.

•You may get both a credit and a deduction for employee premium payments. Since the amount of your health insurance premium payments will be more than the total credit, if you are eligible, you can still claim a business expense deduction for the premiums in excess of the credit. 

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Small Business Prep for the Holiday Season

Corporate Business Solutions  is a Chicago-based business consulting firm that is recognized for the ability to assist in the growth of small and medium- size businesses.  Our experience allows for us to assist business leaders with the challenges they face in today’s small business marketplace.

Many savvy small business owners are thinking ahead to the holiday season. Data from Google revealed that more than a quarter of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween, so retailers need to be ready for the rush. If you haven’t already started prepping your business for the holidays, now is the time to start.

Here are a few key areas your marketing and sales efforts should focus on, and what you can do now to ensure a great shopping experience for your customers all season long.

  • Website optimization– As more and more businesses take their retail operations online, it’s incredibly important to provide a seamless, fast website for your customers. A recent report from website performance solutions provider found that slow websites mean fewer sales — 57 percent of consumers will abandon a site that fails to load after 3 seconds. Be sure your website is ready for holiday traffic or prepare to lose customers.
  • Holiday season shipping – In an age of Amazon Prime and same-day delivery, consumer expectations about e-commerce shipping are higher than ever. Any retailer that’s selling online needs to think about realistic shipping times and cutoffs throughout the season to make sure customers get their deliveries before the holidays.
  • Keeping online shoppers safe – Online sales means the potential for more businesses to get in on the holiday sales action, but it also means a greater chance for cybercriminals to hack sensitive customer data. Online retailer websites and associated back-end systems need to be up to date, compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and able to handle the expected transaction volume throughout the holiday season.
  • Marketing and social media– You may be planning some great sales for the season, but without the right marketing campaigns, your customers likely won’t know about them. Social media, email blasts and even texts play a role in holiday season marketing now, and businesses should be crafting the right messages for the right customers.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Construction Company Management Tips

Corporate Business Solutions is a leading business consulting firm that works with businesses that have a minimum of 10 employees and $1 million in revenue. We work directly with business leaders in many different industries, including the construction industry.

If you’re an owner or manager of a construction business, we have tips that may help you be more successful:

  1. Hire good salespeople.   Your sales personnel are the face of your business.  It is worth it to spend extra time with every member of your sales team, ensuring they know every aspect of your business and can present the business in the best fashion possible.
  2. Train your sales staff on prospecting.  In business-to-business sales, the telephone should be your sales staff’s best friend. Many salespeople have a fear of the phone, rejection and those in authority. You will have more than enough prospects to turn into sales if you teach your salespeople how to find prospects in their everyday activities.
  3. Teach all staff member’s great customer service skills.  More than one sale has been landed by a personable and well-trained receptionist after the official salesman had failed to close the deal. A sale starts when anyone enters your establishment.
  4. Market your company aggressively.  Stand out from your competitors. Sponsor seminars with your local chamber of commerce, write articles, speak to the local service club, redesign your website, sponsor golf outings and frequently stay in contact with prospects and customers.
  5. Increase your cash flow.  Teach your sales and estimating staff that not all sales are good sales. Unprofitable projects and jobs steal much needed time and money and could be avoided if your staff analyzed jobs more thoroughly before taking them.
  6. Control overhead.  Identify what can be reduced and what can be eliminated to improve cash flow. Scrutinize every expense including additional offices, gas cards, trucks, travel expenses, cell phones, service contracts, insurance policies, etc., and cut unnecessary costs.
  7. Improve job costing. For certain contracts—especially government contracts—cash flow can be accelerated by instituting more accurate and consistent job costing, resulting in larger immediate billings. If overhead is a billable expense, have someone accurately quantify and document the expenses that qualify as reimbursable according to the contract. The business owner cannot be the master of everything—know when to get help.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

POS Systems and Cash Registers for Small Business Use

Corporate Business Solutions  helps small to medium – size businesses implement new systems, procedures and protocols, which will often lead to the business achieving a greater level of success.

As you probably know, every store needs a cash management system to handle purchases at the point of sale (POS.)  When deciding what to buy, it’s critical to learn the parts of a POS cash register, understand the benefits and potential drawbacks of various point of sale systems and even to know how much money to keep in the till.

For a new business, the choice of cash register or POS system may simply depend on the budget of the retail location.  Before selecting a cash register or POS system, it is important to understand your business needs, the cash management options and POS hardware available and make your selection based on an educated decision. In addition, before you buy either a cash register or a POS system, learn what kind of warranty or support comes with the machine. Also plan how you or your staff will be trained to use the equipment.

Some benefits of POS systems include:

•More detailed reports

•Inventory management and control

•Customer relationship management (CRM)

•Marketing tools

•Omni-channel capabilities

•Improve accuracy

•Loyalty programs

•Gift Cards

•Easily grows with business

Some benefits of cash registers include:

•Low cost for startups

•Most models are easy to use

•Fewer components

•Basic functions and reporting

•Longer life since it does not need to be updated constantly like a POS

To learn more about what we can do for you and / or to schedule your appointment with the experienced business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Workplace Tips for New Managers

Corporate Business Solutions is often called upon to help small to medium-size businesses access the path to success. We can help with all aspects of business, including staffing, cost control systems and accounting.

Many times we help overhaul internal functions, including staffing and promotions.  If you’ve recently been promoted to a new managerial role, we have tips that may help you be proactive in your new position:

  1. Respect longstanding employees. Workers who aren’t necessarily older but who have been in a job for nearly 10 years might not take too kindly to a new boss who makes unreasonable demands, particularly if the employees feel they were unfairly passed over for the promotion this manager received.
  2. Spearhead a group outing. By organizing a happy hour or bowling night, managers can halt tensions before they progress. Bonding experiences build trust.
  3. Establish credibility. Simply landing a job is only the first step in proving your managerial proficiency. Now you need establish yourself as a trustworthy person by keeping promises.
  4. Be confident in your team’s abilities. Every team needs guidance, but an overabundance of it can prove detrimental. Young managers should trust their employees’ abilities to successfully complete their assigned tasks.
  5. Respect diversity. Appreciating or even celebrating differences (whether they’re age, gender-related or racial) within your underling pool is a great way to foster a sense of togetherness in the workplace. It is great to indicate to direct reports that you value the strength of a multigenerational, multicultural team and their ideas.
  6. Network as much and as often as possible. Acquainting yourself with a platter of conferences, meet-and-greets, seminars, and workshops is a great way to gain visibility for both you and your organization. Also introduce yourself to key people in other departments.
  7. Be an open communicator. It’s pretty tough to lead a team behind closed doors. Sound interpersonal skills can be indispensable to managers, whether they are just beginning their careers or have been in their roles for years.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your complimentary appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us at 877-357-9366.

Tips for Business Lunch Etiquette

Corporate Business Solutions  was formed by a group of business professionals who have been involved in building some of the fastest growing analytical, management consulting and strategic tax planning companies in business today. We now offer the highest quality consulting services available in the marketplace. We work with small to medium – size businesses in a variety of industries, including contractors, small manufacturers, wholesale companies and job shops.

We know that many business owners find it necessary to hold business meetings over lunch.  If you have a business lunch coming up, we have simple tips that may help you achieve success:

  1. Don’t make the attendees drive across town to meet you.  Be sure to keep it close to their office.
  2. Confirm the lunch a day or two in advance to be sure there was no miscommunication regarding time, date or location.
  3. Don’t dig into business immediately. Waiting until after you’ve ordered lunch will prevent you from getting interrupted in mid-thought. Until then, make small talk.
  4. Before ordering, consider how you will look eating it.  During a business meal, it may be smart to avoid foods that are complicated to eat, like pasta with sauce, anything barbeque, oversized sandwiches or lobster in the shell.
  5. When possible, put your cell phone away.  Place it on silent so sounds and / or vibrations are not affecting the lunch hour.
  6. Avoid gesturing with your utensils. You may very well be involved in an animated discussion — that’s certainly not a bad thing. But don’t get carried away and start waving a fork or knife in the air.
  7. Paying with credit cards looks more professional than paying with cash.  You also have a record of your business expense both for your business expense accounting and for the IRS.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your complimentary appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Technology Management in Small Business

Corporate Business Solutions is a leading business consulting firm that works with businesses which have a minimum of 10 employees and $1 million in revenue. Ultimately, we help access the information needed for a business to reach their goals.

There is a reason the U.S. Small Business Administration is suggesting it’s time for small businesses to get connected. Information technology is an essential partner in management of your business, regardless of the industry you operate in.   As a business owner, you can manage your business with greater accuracy and efficiency with the assistance of information technology and computer applications.

  • Storage: You may already use a computer for data storage for your business. Inventory, sales, receivables and payables stored in Excel, Open Office or a similar program keeps these figures at your fingertips. Accounting software stores your payroll information, tax records and specialized data for your business. Once you’re acquainted with a program, you won’t know how you functioned without it. You can eliminate much of the physical storage at the office by using information technology to scan and store old personnel and payroll files, tax files or client files.
  • Marketing: Large and small businesses are on a level playing field on the Internet. You can have a Web presence, take orders, buy merchandise, sell excess or even operate some businesses entirely online. A marketing tool that uses information technology is the Quick Response or QR Code that looks like a bar code but is square. A scan advertises your website address and includes any text you choose. You can use your business management skills to direct employees or contractors to do your Internet marketing, or you can choose to learn a new set of skills in information technology.
  • Information: Whether you learned business management by the book or by practical experience, you’ll need updates all of your life. The Internet is a wealth of information to keep you current with trends, techniques, software and human resources. You can draw on online databases and websites to locate potential employees, compare insurance proposals, tackle employee issues or check out the competition. Managing your business with information gleaned from the Internet keeps you knowledgeable and on the cutting edge.
  • Communication: Communication by email is faster and costs less than sending a paper letter in the mail. You can transform your business to the 21st century with the use of email for communication with clients or customers. Information technology allows you to organize email file folders by client or by type of communication, such as orders or billing. You can drag and drop your email files to closed folders as your company completes projects. Your communication files become closed files, placed in storage on CD or on a hard drive with a duplicate copy or backup automated by a program or service.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your complimentary appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

External and Internal Environmental Factors in Small Business

Corporate Business Solutions  has the proven-expertise to put your business on the path to success. We often help small to medium –size businesses determine their external and internal environmental factors that are affecting business. The internal business environment includes factors within the organization that impact the approach and success of your operations. The external environment consists of a variety of factors outside your company doors that you typically don’t have much control over.

To be successful, business owners must manage the strengths of internal operations and recognize potential opportunities and threats outside of operations.

  • Organizational Direction: The role of company leadership is an important internal business factor. Your leadership style and the styles of other company management impact organizational culture. The positive or negative nature, level of family-friendliness, effectiveness of communication and value of employees are cultural implications that result from leadership approaches. Companies often provide formal structure or direction with mission and vision statements. These are forward-looking statements that provide the business for company decisions and activities.
  • Other Internal Factors: The strength of your employees is another crucial internal business factor. Motivated, hard-working and talented workers generally produce better results than unmotivated, less-talented employees. Your business processes and relationships within and between departments and employees also significantly impact business effectiveness and efficiency. In a high-performing workplace, employees not only have talent, but they work well together and collaborate on ideas and resolutions.
  • External Competition: One of the most critical external business factors is competition. Whether you operate in a concentrated industry with a few major competitors or a large industry with many competitors, you need to know the competition. Many companies do competitive analysis to compare their offerings and prices to those of competitors. When developing business philosophies and products, it is helpful to use your strength in quality production, customer service or operational efficiency to build competitive advantages that benefit your customers.
  • Other External Factors: Other common external factors fall into several categories, including socio-economic, legal or ethical, political and technological. Socio-economic factors relate to the values, attitudes and concerns of your target customers and their economic abilities to afford your products. The legal, ethical and political environments generally relate to your need to abide by business laws and to meet the ethical or social responsibility standards of your customers and communities. In some industries, technological evolution drives the need for companies to adapt and constantly research for improvements.

To learn more about what we can do for you and / or to schedule your complimentary appointment with the experienced business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.